The iGeneration is undoubtedly here, with billions of websites now occupy the internet. Promotions are so often either preceded by a # or tailed off with a .com, and high streets and malls across the globe are struggling to attract those who prefer to browse items on their iPhone and pay with Google Wallet.
Yet, despite the sweeping spread of the internet in both our personal and professional lives, many of those tasked with constructing their own business identity online, stumble, stall and all together stay at an arm’s length from anything that sounds like HTML or SEO.
The truth is that with time, patience and a certain amount of effort, anyone can set up a professional website and reap the ensuing rewards. With that in mind, we have put together four steps to help you move your business online.
1. Domain Name
The first thing you will need to do is settle upon a domain name. This will require some thought: your name must be snappy, memorable, and give a clue as to what your site offers.
Ensure you consider how the name looks when in URL format so to avoid embarrassment, like Speed of Art for example, with their domain name ‘speedofart.com’.
Bear in mind that your domain name will also determine your email address. For example, if your domain name is bostonshoes.com, your email will be something like [email protected]. Some hosting providers such as 1&1 offer a free email address with your domain, although be aware that this is not always the case. Ensure you check what a host offers before buying a package.
When making this vital choice, it’s also important to check if your desired name is available to purchase. There is normally plenty of choice, especially with the advent of new and less conventional Top Level Domain names (the suffix of a URL, such as .com or .org).
Although these TLDs, such as .travel or .nyc, are fancy and give an extra nugget of information about your site. the .com or country specific TLDs (.co.uk, .au, .ca etc.) are still regarded as the most trusted. If you do purchase a TLD such as .travel, make sure that you also purchase the .com (or ensure that it is not taken by someone else) so to avoid splitting your site traffic.
Your website is essentially your shop window to the world. As much time and effort that you would spend decorating a bricks and mortar shop window must be expended when designing your website.
If you do not regard yourself as the creative type, this not a problem, as most web hosts will offer within their packages a free web builder with a score of nifty design templates.
WordPress, the world’s most popular blogging platform, offers literally thousands of design themes with WordCampers (members of the WordPress online community) able to upload their own for others to implement on their sites.
3. Add-ons and Plug-ins
There are hundreds of fun software programs out there that can be implemented onto your site in order to customize it to your taste and needs. Many businesses that only have a Facebook page cite the principal reason for their obstinacy as the ease in which customers can contact them.
A chat function almost identical to that of Facebook is offered by software packages such as LiveZilla, Olark and Pure Chat. The message boxes can be customized and all communication will be securely archived.
Integrating your site with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest is as easy as pie, as is adding a Skype button. Essentially, your website can be as responsive and user-friendly as you like.
In 2013 eCommerce retail rose by 4.4%; it increased by 15.7% in 2014, and is expected to see an even greater leap in 2015. Starting an eCommerce site is naturally a further step into the heart of the web, and although it comes with its own array of challenges, an online shop can be created by anyone, and when done properly, can pay back dividends.
Software programs such as Magento (and the spin-off Mandrill) are invaluable to eCommerce web masters. Their customer support teams are able to guide you through the various hoops of setting it up.
Research will need to be made into both acquiring an ESSL certificate (which will show site visitors that you are a secure and legitimate eCommerce site) and setting up a Payment Gateway API with your bank. These are the integral foundations of an eCommerce site which need to be in place before anything else.
Though there is a lot to consider, once you start reading up on the various aspects to these, you will find that they are not as formidable as they seem when they are simply inscrutable acronyms.